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Housing First Partners Conference, March 23-25 in Los Angeles, CA

Posted January 28, 2016

The Housing First Partners Conference – “Taking Housing First to Scale” will take place on Wednesday – Friday, March 23-25, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA and features presentations and plenary sessions from local and national experts engaged in ending homelessness through Housing First and provide attendees the opportunity to engage and collaborate with leaders in the fields of homelessness, behavioral health, philanthropy and government. This conference will focus on topics that take Housing First approach to scale and expanding its implementation across all elements of our homelessness services, housing systems and policy change. A special track designed for executive directors, funders and other community leaders will feature a variety of opportunities to learn how leaders in the field at the federal, local and agency level have and can work together to take the Housing First model to scale. For more information and to register, visit http://www.hfpartnersconference.com.

 



Job Opportunity: Program Director, Energy Conservation and Weatherization at BROC

Posted

BROC – Community Action in Southwestern Vermont is recruiting a Program Director to lead its’ energy conservation programs including weatherization services. The Program Director will administer, coordinate and provide leadership for the department’s innovative programming including energy efficiency measures to benefit low income households. A successful candidate will hold a Bachelor’s degree in building science and energy efficiency or construction management or a related field or an equivalent combination of education and experience plus 10 years relevant work experience ideally including contract and/or grants management. BROC offers a competitive salary for this exempt position with excellent benefits. Expect occasional nights or weekends. Submit a letter of interest and resume to BROC, 45 Union St., Rutland, VT 05701 by February 8, 2016.

 



Former Hotel Becomes Permanent Housing for Homeless

Posted January 26, 2016

VT Digger reports on the opening of the Beacon Apartments, which consists of 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the now renovated former Ho Hum Motel in South Burlington, will provide permanent housing and supportive services to chronically homeless individuals. The project is made possible through the work of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and the Community Health Centers of Burlington. Below is an excerpt from the article:

Many of the people who began moving into modest but newly renovated apartments this month at the former Ho Hum Motel haven’t had a place of their own in years.

One man said he hadn’t showered in 2½ months, recalled Ben Daniels, construction manager for the Beacon Apartments, as the single-story brick complex is known. Now he has his own bathroom with a shower.

The Beacon Apartments are a project of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and Safe Harbor, which is the Community Health Centers of Burlington’s health care program for homeless people.

The 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments on Route 7 between Burlington and Shelburne are not transitional housing, said Chris Donnelly, director of community relations for the housing trust. Tenants can stay forever if they choose, he said.

Working with United Way, the groups conducted a survey to identify the homeless people in the region most likely to die on the streets or in the woods. They’re also the people “most likely to cycle through emergency rooms,” Donnelly said — visits that ultimately drive up health care costs borne by the public at large.

The idea is to give the long-term homeless, many of whom struggle with substance abuse and mental illness, stable housing and support services that will allow them to live more normal lives.

“These are folks who have trouble navigating the system on a good day. They’ve really just been focused on survival,” said Erin Ahearn, Safe Harbor’s homeless health care program manager.

Many are the product of generational poverty and “never had the opportunity to be independent and successful on their own,” Ahearn said. They often grew up without a family home, frequently staying with friends or relatives, and in some cases on the streets, she said.

To read the full article, click here.

 



Champlain Housing Trust Purchases Property from UVM

Posted

The Champlain Housing Trust announced that it has purchased the Ethan Allen Apartments in Essex from the University of Vermont. The property, with 31 apartments in 11 buildings, was sold for $3.9 million.

“We are excited to acquire this property, and appreciate UVM’s desire to work with us to eventually create more affordable homeownership opportunity,” said Michael Monte, chief operating and financial officer for Champlain Housing Trust (CHT).

The organization will offer existing tenants an opportunity to sign a new lease in June. Eventually, 19 of the 31 apartments will slowly be converted to affordable homeownership through CHT’s shared equity program.

The remaining twelve apartments will remain for rent, and will provide future flexibility for CHT to address affordable housing needs for people in need.

“Champlain Housing Trust have been ideal partners to work with on the sale of Ethan Allen Apartments,” said Annie Stevens, Vice Provost for Student Affairs at UVM. “We know that Champlain Housing Trust will be excellent stewards of this property and that they are committed to providing a smooth transition for the student residents and their families as well as assistance for their ongoing affordable housing needs.”

CHT is receiving financing for the purchase through Community Housing Capital, a national Community Development Financial Institution which serves as a direct lender to members of the NeighborWorks America network, like CHT. Most recently, Community Housing Capital financed a similar rental-to-homeownership initiative of CHT’s in Burlington’s south end. The university is also financing a portion of the sale.

The Champlain Housing Trust, founded in 1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, CHT manages 2,200 apartments, stewards 565 owner-occupied homes in its signature shared-equity program, offers homebuyer education and financial fitness counseling, provides services to five housing cooperatives, and offers affordable energy efficiency and rehab loans. For more information, visit www.getahome.org.

For a link to this press release, click here.

 



Burlington, Vermont Approves Housing Plan and Builds Trust Fund

Posted January 22, 2016

The Center for Community Change did a great feature on the Burlington Housing Action Plan and Housing Trust Fund in their Housing Trust Fund Project Winter 2016 Newsletter:

The Burlington City Council unanimously approved a Housing Action Plan that includes 22 initiatives to create new housing and reduce costs in Vermont’s largest city, including expanding the City’s Housing Trust Fund.

The Housing Action plan adopted by the city council was drafted over sixteen months. In 2014, a study commissioned by the city found that 58 percent of city residents are renters and spend an average of 44 percent of their income on housing. It also found the city lagging in production of new housing particularly for low and moderate income households. City officials then engaged the public and business sectors to create the Housing Action Plan. The 22 proposals include prioritizing affordable housing, expanding the Housing Trust Fund, reducing regulatory barriers, exploring transportation options and parking, building code reform, reviewing college housing, and creating new approaches to homelessness. Also among the recommendations were steps to improve home energy efficiency.

The Burlington Housing Trust Fund was created in 1987 and is designed to support the development and preservation of affordable homes for low-income households. The funding comes from a dedicated property tax approved by the voters in 1989. Grants are made to nonprofit housing organizations to fund both the development and operating costs associated with sustaining affordable housing. The fund is administered by the Community and Economic Development Office and half of the funds are allocated to housing development and rehabilitation, 35% to housing organizations for operations, and 15% for administration.

The FY2016 budget increases funding by $175,000, or nearly doubles the revenues going into the Housing Trust Fund. The City views the Fund as providing valuable capital and capacity for advancing affordable housing in the City. For decades, housing affordability has been identified as a significant challenge for the City and its residents and a coalition of affordable housing nonprofits have worked to advance policies to address these goals. Allocating a full penny per every $100 of property value increases current funding of about $180,000 to $340,000. This advance was recommended in the City Housing Action plan including making revisions to the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to better complement the Housing Trust Fund, including restoring the in-lieu fee option.

The Burlington Housing Trust Fund has consistently provided support for affordable housing activities and the nonprofit housing community. In its last annual report, the Fund committed more than $500,000, including revenues, program income and carry over. Some $360,000 supported affordable housing activities and another $120,000 provided capacity funds to nonprofit organizations.

While advocates have praised these steps, questions are also being raised about: why not more? The full penny is a good investment, but much more is needed to fully address the need for safe affordable homes throughout Burlington. Erhard Mahnke with the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition praised the plan, but noted that with declining federal support for affordable housing, the Trust Fund needs to focus on those with the greatest need and those who work in Burlington, but cannot afford to live there. Mahnke also pushed the City to consider making permanent the one-cent increase to the Housing Trust Fund. And on his side, is City Councilor Sharon Bushor who said the increase should be incorporated into the City Charter asked her fellow councilors: “If housing is our number one issue, then we really need to look at what general fund (money) we’re setting aside on an annual basis to address this.”

For a link to the full article, click here.

 



USDA Rural Development Housing Preservation Grants, Call for Applications

Posted January 20, 2016

USDA Rural Development has Housing Preservation Grant Funds Available – Grant Application Deadline: March 15

USDA Rural Development is currently accepting Housing Preservation Grant applications.  This program provides grants to sponsoring organizations for the repair or rehabilitation of housing occupied by low and very low income people.

Eligible projects include:

  • Repairing or replacing electrical wiring, foundations, roofs, heating systems, water and waste disposal systems
  • Handicap accessibility features
  • Labor and materials
  • Administrative expenses
  • Other projects may be eligible, please contact Rural Development with eligibility questions

For more information on this program, please visit the websites for Vermont and New Hampshire or view the compete Notice of Solicitation of Applications.  (Please note that the current version of the NOSA references an earlier deadline.  This deadline has been extended from February 12 to March 15.  A new NOSA will be published with the updated date by the end of January.)

          *Projects which serve Caledonia, Essex and Orleans counties are encouraged to apply due to the availability of funds in the REAP Zone set aside for those counties.

          **All applications require a 15 day public comment period before they can be summited for review.

            Who may apply: Most state and local governmental entities, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized tribes.

How to apply: Contact your local USDA Rural Development office to discuss your project with a program specialist and to obtain a hard copy of the application.  Apply online atwww.grants.gov.

Vermont State Contact              
Clint Furlow – Multi-Family Housing Specialist
Clinton.furlow@vt.usda.gov, (802) 828-6028
USDA Rural Development Vermont

New Hampshire State Contact
Heather Malone – Multi-Family Housing Specialist
Heather.malone@nh.usda.gov, (602) 223-6046
USDA Rural Development New Hampshire

 



VT AHS Summary Housing Outcomes – 2015

Posted

To view the summaries of key VT Agency of Human Services housing programs such as emergency shelter & services, supportive housing, weatherization and homelessness prevention over FY 2015, click here.

 



How Bernie Sanders Made Burlington Affordable

Posted

Slate.com recently published an article on how Senator Bernie Sanders supported the creation of the Burlington Community Land Trust (now known as Champlain Housing Trust) during his time as mayor of Burlington, which helped to improve housing affordability in the area. Below is an excerpt:

Bob Robbins bought his home in 1995 amid a bout of long-term unemployment. Living with his wife and two kids in a rundown rental in Burlington, Vermont, he wanted to stabilize the family’s housing before his children started kindergarten.

Prospects seemed bleak. The family’s savings had dwindled after his unemployment insurance gave out. But in 1993 Robbins saw a newspaper advertisement for something called the Burlington Community Land Trust. He visited its offices and learned about its generous grants for low-income home ownership. The innovative offer would significantly lower the price by allowing the couple to purchase only the house, while the trust paid for the land it sat on. Within two years, his family owned a home in a small town just to the east of the city. The Robbins family bought its home through a conventional realtor and a commercial bank while also entering a covenant with the land trust to lease the land upon their home sits upon. This reduced the costs of their mortgage and down payment substantially.

They’re far from alone. Across the land trust’s portfolio today, there are about 565 other homes that enjoy similar terms, not to mention 2,100 rental and cooperative units. Half of these holdings are located within the city of Burlington itself, which had a total of 16,897 housing units as of 2010, meaning that about 7.6 percent of the stock sits on the nonprofit’s land.

“We don’t understand why housing isn’t done this way everywhere,” says Robbins, who says the cheaper mortgage allowed his family to save money for college and retirement that otherwise would have gone toward housing. “It’s just such a logical thing to have land owned by a community and the house be your private property to do with as you wish. We’ve just had a terrific life here so far because of it.”

While mayor of Burlington in the 1980s, the democratic-socialist senator and current contender for the Democratic presidential nomination was an early champion of community land trusts. Today, the organization whose creation he made possible—now called the Champlain Housing Trust—is the largest and most influential of its type in the nation.

Community land trusts are nonprofit organizations, with a board composed of representatives of the public, the local government, and the tenants, that obtain land and either develop it themselves or lease it to developers. The trust then removes its holdings from the private market, usually through 99-year ground leases and pre-emptive purchase requirements that limit how much the house can be sold for. Community land trust boosters argue that this not only ensures permanent affordability, but allows the organization to intercede in the case of, say, a foreclosure. An oft-cited study by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy showed that, as of 2010, homeowners within a land trust were 10 times less likely to default on their homes than their private-market counterparts.

To continue reading the full article, click here.

 



Job Opportunity: Economic Justice and Housing Specialist at the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence

Posted January 19, 2016

The Vermont Network is seeking a qualified candidate for its Economic Justice and Housing Specialist position. This 40 hour per week position, which is situated at our offices in Montpelier, Vermont, offers a competitive salary and benefit package, and the opportunity to work in a dynamic, supportive work environment on important social change issues.

The Economic Justice and Housing Specialist is responsible for improving economic and housing systems in order to support the safety and economic well-being of all victims/survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Vermont. We hope to recruit someone who brings the following skills and attitudes:

• Any combination of experience and education equal to a Bachelors of Arts or Science Degree in one of the human services or related fields;
• Working knowledge of Vermont’s state government, legislative process and policy analysis.
• Knowledge of Vermont’s social services, housing, and government entitlement system.
• Experience in systems advocacy related to domestic and sexual violence.
• Knowledge of domestic and sexual violence;
• A demonstrated commitment to anti-oppression work and ending violence against women;
• A minimum of four years volunteer or professional experience in a field relative to the position;
• Ability and commitment to work within a team model to achieve organizational goals;
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills;
• Excellent group facilitation skills.

The Vermont Network seeks and supports a multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural work place for the benefit of our organization, our work and our movement to end gender-based violence. We strongly encourage applicants from racially or ethnically diverse communities, LGBTQ communities and individuals with disabilities to apply.

Send an application packet that includes a cover letter and resume to karents@vtnetwork.org by the close of business on January 26, 2016.

 



2016 Consolidated Plan Public Meeting, February 8th

Posted January 14, 2016

The State of Vermont’s Department of Housing and Community Development is conducting a public hearing in preparation for developing its 2016 HUD Consolidated Plan Action Plan. The purpose of the hearing is to obtain citizen’s views about housing, homelessness, public facilities and services, and non-housing community development needs in the state, development of proposed grant activities, and to review past performance of programs included in the plan.

The plan constitutes the State’s application for, and outlines priorities for use of approximately $10 million annually in federal funding provided to the State for the Community Development Block Grants (CBDG), HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs. In addition, HUD may allocate new funds to the State for the National Housing Trust Fund to develop housing affordable to extremely low- and very low- income households. These funds, if awarded, will be included in the plan.

The goals of the plan are to provide decent housing, assure a suitable living environment, and expand economic opportunities for Vermont’s citizens. More information about the plan is available on the Department’s website at www.accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities.

The hearing will be held on Monday, February 8, 2016, from 4:00 – 4:30 p.m. in the Calvin Coolidge Room, 1 National Life Drive, Davis Building, 6th Floor, Montpelier. The hearing room is handicapped accessible. Accommodations for persons with disabilities, and interpreters to meet the needs of non-English speaking persons will be made available upon request. Requests for accommodations should be directed to Arthur Hamlin at 802-828-3749, or in writing to Arthur Hamlin, Housing Program Coordinator, Vermont DHCD, 1 National Life Drive, Davis Building, 6th Floor, Montpelier, VT 05620 by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27, 2016. For the Hearing Impaired please call (TTY#) l -800-253-0191.

 



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